ALTA (liquid color) is a vibrant red liquid used to create lovely patterns on the hands and palms of the feet. The name of the dye is Mahavar, a dark pink stone.
It is a traditional Indian custom that is used at festivals and marriages to beautify the feet. It is a unique method to apply Mehendi henna. It paints the soles and upper feet with an elaborate design. It not only looks wonderful on the feet, but also keeps the body cool.
History and Origin Of Alta:
The exact date of its discovery is uncertain, but the Upanishads suggest that it is a viyal part of Hindu culture in India. His roots can be traced back to the mythological depiction of the Lord Krishna, who applied it to his lover Radha’s foot. Its importance developed from its resemblance to blood, a source of good fortune and wealth.
Alta was made from betel leaves. Today, the world knows that Alta is made from varnish and other color chemicals. Synthetic chemicals such as Sindoor, Kumkum and Vermillion were used to produce the corresponding liquid. It displaced henna in various parts of India
Alta As A Custom:
The Alta is used in some parts of India not only as a foot ornament, but also as an indispensable post-wedding ritual when the bride gets in the house of her in-laws. In West Bengal, it is customary for a woman to spend as much time as possible in decorating her hair ,face and to adorn her feet with an alta. During the Durga Puja, it is the Bengali custom to wear an alta. Unfortunately they are also used during the Oriya wedding ceremony. When the bride enters a new house, she walks in slowly, leaving no trace as she marks her mother’s residence.
Alta As An Integral Part of the Makeup:
Alta is used in Hindu mythology to paint goddess artworks and sculptures by Goddess Lakshmi and Durga. Radha and Krishna also appear in alta. Alta can be found in Bharatnatyam, Mohiniyattam , Odissi, Kuchipudi, Kathak, and Manipuri to name just a few of the oldest Indian dance forms.
It is an essential part of the process of creating the dancers. The feet and hand of the Odissi dancers are decorated with vibrant red liquid dye and their most striking feature. Huge and dramatic purple paws and mudra movements are also shown. Indian dance traditions tell the stories of numerous gods and many goddesses and these stories are an important part of solah shringar (Vedic bridal jewelry).
Alta is a pre-wedding ritual commonly used in major cities and traditional South Indian, Maharashtrian and Bengali households. Its quick and simple embellishments make it difficult to create intricate designs with alta. Alta uses a simple brush painting technique so that anyone with a creative talent can learn. Unlike henna and Mehendi, which dry long, it gets dry quickly.
Alta’s name became known all over the world. Alta’s ceremony was filmed in Bollywood movies with big stars, songs and dance performances, establishing a new tradition and bringing the tradition back into the public eye. Leading women in many films used bright red liquid paint on their hands.
For this reason, Alta is an unavoidable option for many modern dancers, who use it to make kits to help them apply quickly, in keeping with the Indian custom of Mehndi (henna), which is polished and smear-free.
The Geethalayam, most famous School of Bharatham in Chennai (https://geethalayam.com/) mentions from their experience that most of the Bharatanatyam dancers opt to go for Alta rather then the Mehandi or Henna due to time constraint between rehearsals and arangettram
So it can be inferred that many modern day dancer’s make up kit includes Alto as an inevitable option because they have found a way around everything else with its quick application process but still maintains Indian traditions like mehandi and henna while looking polished without any smud!